In addition to our general, overarching strategy, our Access and Applications divisions and the individual segments within them require specific human resources strategies. We have established centralized, topic-specific centers of competence to regulate overarching HR governance issues and offer Group-wide services, allowing requirements and staffing levels for the Group and the divisions to be coordinated. This ensures an overarching approach and equal treatment, while freeing up the segments to focus squarely on their operational business.
Responsibility for key elements of human resources development, recruitment, and HR marketing has been transferred to the segments concerned so as to guarantee this operational focus and ensure the HR strategy in the segments is as close to the business as possible. By contrast, the core “UI Learning and Organizational Development” center of competence promotes topics such as diversity and learning on a Group-wide basis so as to provide a framework for creativity and productivity. This helps leverage new ideas and innovative potential, enhances our Company’s competitiveness, and offers opportunities for all.
Examples of overarching goals and targets are our aim of offering tailored staff development formats, recruiting managers from within the organization, and retaining employees for the long term. Metrics used to track effectiveness include the management positions that have been filled internally (2021: 65.71%; 2020: 73.65%; 2019: 70.19%)(1) and the staff turnover rate (2021: 11.21%; 2020: 6.70%; 2019: 8.96%)(2). In addition, we have set ourselves the goal of appointing more women to management positions.
(1) Active core employees, i.e., employees including apprentices and trainees, but not including staff with inactive employment contracts (mainly employees on parental leave), interns, student workers, school students, thesis students, and temporary staff.
(2) Annual average headcount (active core employees).
The following tables give a breakdown of the workforce by location (Germany or abroad) and segment:
Employees by location(1)
(1) Figures refer to our active employees as of December 31 of each fiscal year.
Employees by segment(1)
A multiyear overview, broken down by country, is given in the “Employees” section of the Annual Report.
Our corporate values and leadership principles comprise our Company’s value system. Our Code of Conduct shows how we act in line with these values. All employees receive a bound version of our Corporate Values and the Code of Conduct when they join United Internet, and these are also discussed during the onboarding process.
We prepare our managers for their responsibility as role models and have also anchored this as a core element of our leadership principles, so to ensure we are walking the talk with our values. These principles are currently being broken down in greater detail in the individual segments, for example in IONOS’s Business Principles. In our two-monthly (virtual) manager onboarding meetings, small groups of managers discuss our values and leadership principles, and gain a firm understanding of what they mean for our day-to-day work. Management Board members from the individual segments kick off and introduce the topic, and actively reach out to our new managers on it. It is then discussed in more detail and put in an operational context in the obligatory three-part “Leadership Training – Leadership Foundations” course, which all new managers have been required to take since the first quarter of 2020.
Learning should be an option for, and accessible to, all staff. In keeping with this principle, all training courses, networking events, and personal and professional development offerings were continued where sensible in a digital learning format in the 2021 reporting period, and delivered in a variety of unit lengths, from hour-long to full-day formats. As soon as the current pandemic situation permits, we will progress this as a judicious mix of virtual and face-to-face offerings and modular training courses of different lengths, so as to guarantee flexible learning in the future, too. This combination of different learning formats and times will also help to make hybrid collaboration a concrete reality.
Above and beyond this, we added a comprehensive knowledge platform on hybrid collaboration to our intranet in 2021. This allowed managers and staff to discuss concrete examples using numerous best-practice interchange formats to ensure we are all learning continuously from and with each other even in these extraordinary times. As a result, we have built strong digital working formats as an organization and taken cross-border collaboration to a new level. We intend to expand these activities in future. New formats such as working lunch sessions, brown bag lunches, and other short training modules are also helping us to build this continuous virtual sharing and learning process. Our new “Good to Know” information formats for managers and experts address current issues, while our “Starte durch” (“Flying start”) training series helps new in-house staff find their feet quickly during virtual onboarding, too.
In addition, flat hierarchies and unbureaucratic communication channels permit rapid decision-making. This allows us to be agile and react flexibly to new challenges. Our open feedback culture is another essential foundation for working together and helps foster a high-performance and respectful environment. We can only actively practice values such as openness and fairness in an environment in which colleagues provide feedback to one another respectfully and constructively. Only such an environment allows continuous improvements that benefit individual employees, teams, and the Company alike. This is why high-quality feedback play a key role for us in establishing an open, supportive corporate culture.
Staff and managers assess each other directly in our annual feedback and performance reviews. In addition, employees can obtain digital, self-guided 360-degree feedback on themselves at any time, both from their direct superiors and from colleagues. This takes the form of a documented process and can be used in relation to project tasks, for example. This option raises awareness of the need for openness and reflection throughout the entire organization, and makes staff more confident about giving and requesting feedback. As a result, feedback becomes a natural part of everyday work and can be used for continuous improvement.
Other feedback methods are described on our intranet and can be deployed as needed in specific situations by both teams and individuals. We offer training for both employees and managers to assist teams in creating and maintaining a strong feedback culture, increasing the assurance with which they give and receive feedback. Moderators can also be provided for specific team workshops, allowing an individual feedback culture to be established in the teams concerned. In addition, obtaining feedback from colleagues is a fixed part of the process used when employees want to take on positions with greater responsibility.
Ensuring we listen to our employees and providing them with appropriate communication channels are challenges for a rapidly growing company such as United Internet. At the same time, there is an increasing need to provide them with information about our strategy and how the Company is developing. This is why we have established a variety of successful channels for internal employee communication over the years. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic means that most events are being held in digital form, which has changed the nature of communication.
The Management Board members responsible for the individual segments use staff meetings and road shows to provide information on business developments in their areas several times a year. This permits employees to ask Board members personally about the Company's current performance, management issues, and other important topics. Since many employees also own shares in our Company, this ensures that they are kept informed in the same way as investors. These events were held virtually during the fiscal year.
Paying our employees fairly and in line with performance is an important part of our human resources strategy. We aim to provide staff with market-driven, fair and transparent compensation and benefits that are aligned with our corporate strategy. Our internal compensation guidelines form the basis for our comparable, fair, and legally compliant compensation system. They clearly define the rules and procedures to be observed throughout the Group when making salary adjustments.
Some positions and levels of responsibility offer performance-based variable compensation components. In addition, the United Internet Group offers employees a number of benefits above and beyond the financial compensation it pays; these include a company pension, capital formation benefits, prevention programs forming part of our occupational health program, and discounts on our products.
The salaries we pay, and the way in which these progress over time, are independent of employees’ gender or other factors that are not related to the position in question or the skills required. We compare positions internally every six months, keep up to date with market developments and analyses, and track external benchmarks in order to guarantee fair, appropriate compensation. To do this, the salaries for more than 7,000 staff in 8 countries are compared with benchmark data on normal market remuneration from a well-known survey provider. The results of the comparison are made available to the HR business partners and are incorporated in the salary formation process for both regular salary reviews and extraordinary salary adjustments.
We have conducted employee surveys for over ten years now in order to obtain feedback and identify room for improvement, after which we take appropriate measures to implement our findings.
The most recent full employee survey was performed in October 2019 and confirmed the topics from the previous survey. Departmental meetings to communicate the results internally started in December 2019.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the focus in fiscal year 2021 was on measures to protect the entire workforce and comply with all necessary safeguards, and to achieve a work-life balance. Nevertheless, work continued in parallel on individual overarching initiatives that had been identified in the last full employee survey, and in short and ad hoc surveys conducted at individual segments during the pandemic. The measures mainly relate to the following topics, whereby the different segments may focus on different aspects:
The responses from the full employee survey serve as an important indicator of whether our human resources work is a success.
To obtain as objective a view of ourselves as possible, we evaluate assessments by external institutions and independent sector rankings in addition to our internal surveys. In 2021, the Top Employers Institute again recognized us as a “Top Employer” – an accolade we have held for more than 10 years. This certification is awarded to companies that offer their employees attractive working conditions. Criteria used in the evaluation are career opportunities, employer benefits, working conditions, and training and development opportunities.